Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Those Who Fall Between the Cracks
Life Lessons From the Parshah - Behaalotecha
Why No Paschal Offering for 39 Years in the Desert?
As strange as it may seem, the Israelites seem to have only observed Passover once during their 40-year sojourn in the desert.
"I Want to Want"
The rabbi asked, “Do you want to learn?” Shmuel replied, “No. But I want to want to learn.”
Is There a Limit to What We Can Make Holy?
How did fish get involved? By Moses’s own recounting, the people were asking for meat, so why did he talk about giving them (or not giving them) fish?
Who Honored Miriam, and How?
No good deed goes unnoticed
The Torah specifies that “the people” did not abandon Miriam, whereas Rashi suggests that it was an honor accorded to her by G‑d.
Nice Guys Finish Last
Their job was to bring up the rear and gather up any objects left behind--missing socks, perhaps, or lost children... It's not a very glorious role
Achieving Your Best
Why should the first oil of the third pressing have priority for the kindling of the menorah over the second oil of the first pressing?
Why Was Miriam Punished So Harshly?
I’ve been reading the biblical story where Miriam speaks ill about her brother Moses, and her punishment seems completely disproportionate to her “crime.”
A Jewish Approach to Cognitive Dissonance
I would like to be an intellectually honest spiritual seeker, a warm and loving and dynamic wife and mother, a supportive friend; but at the end of the day I look in the mirror and see an annoyed and tired dishrag, and all I want to do is have a cup of coffee and a bar of chocolate . . .
What Are You Worth, Actually?
Extreme humility is sometimes confused with low self-esteem. For Moses, these were as different as day and night.
Trumpets of War and Trumpets of Peace
Upon his arrival in the U.S., he declared that “America is no different.” What did the Rebbe mean?
Torah Insights
Crisis In Jerusalem
The leaders of the Jewish people at the time, the Sons of Betayra, could not decide. Hillel, alone amongst the sages, knew the answer to the question.
Why Moses Needed the Elders
Granted, asking for meat is not the most spiritual exercise, but what is it about the request that so offends Moses?
Raise the Flame
The Menorah is a symbol of the mission statement of the Jewish people. Our task is to illuminate ourselves and the world around us with the warmth, enlightenment and inspiration of the Torah.
Weekly Sermonette
Pain or Privilege?
Even as G-d was providing them with the most incredible miracles, bread from heaven and water from rocks, they were busy moaning and groaning throughout...
Timeless Torah
We happily accept those practices we identify with, but pronounce the others “old-fashioned,” obsolete and out of step with the modern world. What is the underlying argument that allows us the luxury of that rationalization—one which, in a moment of frankness, we might admit is somewhat inconsistent with our own stated beliefs?
The Path of Least Resistance?
There are many important lessons from the story of "the Second Passover," such as there are always second chances in life, or that G-d sometimes waits to see if we really want something badly enough to demand it and only then does He give it to us. But I'd like to share with you third idea...
“Truth, Time, and Trumpets”
How do we balance the old with the new, the ancient and venerable with the latest and greatest?
Life's Passages
Thoughts While Stuck in a Traffic Jam
How often do we want to make time go away?
How to Light up Another…
Dina is sixteen years old, and it seems like everyone in her life is always trying to change her.
For Friday Night
Lessons from the Menorah
"There are seventy facets of the Torah" say the Talmud. Here are three perspectives on the Menorah in the Holy Temple
Moses, the Sanhedrin and the People
The chain of rabbis define the Torah laws, but every individual discovers his or her own reality in their subtle depths.
Through the Eyes of a Woman
Seven Branches, Seven Truths
A lesson from the seven-branched menorah: You don’t have to be a carbon copy of somebody else to be a good Jew. The critical issue is, are you kindled?
Parshah Musings
There's No Such Thing as an Anti-Semite
The age-old struggle between Jew and Jew-hater is a misnomer. It's not us they hate
As anyone who has ever battled a coal barbeque or labored to start a campfire without fire-starters or kerosene would attest, there is more to kindling than just holding a match to the fuel
The Paranormal
Religion is the natural playing field of hucksters and frauds looking to make a fast buck on the back of some else’s credulity. How can you and I possibly differentiate between the holy and the profane, the profound and the ridiculous?
Addicted to Chametz?
Nowadays we commemorate the Second Passover by making sure to indulge in some matzah, but simultaneously we are permitted bread and other chametz on the table.
The Collectors
There are those who stride off imperviously into the sunset, not worrying about those who fall behind. Others live more circumspectly; they are there to pick up the pieces when others fall.
Parshah Blog
Eldad and Medad
They should have been among the elders who gathered at the Tabernacle, upon whom G‑d conferred of Moses' spirit, but instead remained in the camp. But why didn't they join the rest of the elders?
Reflections on the Parshah
Second Chances
We may become strangers to Judaism, wandering on distant pathst. We may become spiritually defective, Jewishly impure, insensitive to the values and beauties of our faith. But we are not doomed to living apart from Judaism.
Parshah Moment
How to Make Great Kids
I am now raising my grandchildren's parents
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Spiritual Pyromania
We can inspire our children, or teach them to inspire themselves. We can be their wings, or teach them to fly.
The Legendary Second Chance
Is all lost if I have lapsed in my Jewish observance?
Back to the Future
Is there a way to master our past?
What Do You Think?
When the Ghetto Walls Crumbled
If education was a challenge in the age of horse and buggies and then mailmen, how much more so in the 21st century, when the outside world is at our doorstep, or better yet, in our bedroom....
Eldad & Medad: The Mysterious Prophets
Eldad and Medad are the protagonists of a cryptic episode in the portion of Behaalotecha
Parshah Messages
If the Milk Can’t Be Unspilled, Why Not Cry?
The “Second Passover” is observed on the fourteenth of Iyar. The origin of this semi-holiday is quite fascinating . . .
When Manna Wasn't Good Enough
What was the underlying reason for the Israelites' grumbling about the manna -- the most perfect food? Were they ungrateful wretches, or just normal people?
Good Tests v. Bad Tests
The Jews tested G-d, and incurred His wrath. But G-d Himself set the example, by testing Abraham. Is this hypocrisy?
Positive Speech
Bad mouthing others is an ugly character flaw. There are two ways to combat this natural tendency.
A Thought for the Week
Miriam's Courage
Inner Stream
Just Because
When you love someone just because, you can overcome many obstacles
The Miracle of Marriage
When opposites attract, sparks fly—because it is the presence of something absolutely great (read: G‑d) that drives the attraction in the first place.
Love Your Fellow
Several weeks ago, on Shabbat afternoon, we had a fascinating discussion. How should we respond when we learn through the media that our fellow Jew has behaved improperly or even immorally?
The Silent Flame
Ironically, the smaller the splash, the higher the rating that the diver receives
The Grand Design
We often find ourselves in unexpected locations, ostensibly the victims of circumstance. We feel frustrated when carefully laid plans are foiled due to circumstances beyond our control. But a Jew must always remember that the "Strides of man are determined "G-d"...
Constructive Shame
As soon as the Tabernacle was erected, G‑d instructed that seven lights be kindled on the candelabra every day. Surprised, Moses asked, "Dear G‑d, You are the Master of light, do You require light from us?"
Weekly Torah
Creating Flames
Truly Humble
The Freeman Files
Our Daily Bread
Meditations on earning a living
The common conception of how the system works is faulty. People see a career as "making a living." But a career doesn't "make" anything
Each Day
Being There
Every Detail
More Light
The Moment
A Long Pole
By law, the menorah stood in a chamber into which only kohanim (priests) were permitted entry. But the law also states that an ordinary person may light the menorah. What is the point—and lesson—of this legal paradox?
The Vertical Life
We "raise" our children, "climb" the ladders of our careers, "rise" to life's occasions, think "highly" of people we admire, "aspire" to high ideals, regard "heaven" as representative of all that is good and "lofty". Why all this uppity talk?
Between Jobs
We tend to think of life as composed of two kinds of time: "real time" devoted to career, family and friends; and "in-between" time -- waiting-room time, airport time, between-jobs time. Not so, says the Rebbe
The Manna Eaters
Life is mostly waste. Take food, for example: we spend many hours earning the money, shopping, cooking, eating, and then most of it passes right through our bodies and into the city's sewer system
Parshah Recovery
How Things Worked Out
Some might think it odd when they hear an alcoholic in recovery say something like “Being an alcoholic is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
More Parshah Articles
The Lamplighter
“The flame is not yours,” said the Rebbe, “you are just its carrier. The lamp is ready to be lit—you need only touch it with the flame.” “Should I grab him by the throat?” asked the chassid. “By the throat, no,” replied the rebbe. “By the lapels, yes.”
What is Humility?
"And Moses was exceedingly humble, more than any man on the face of the earth". Very nice compliment, but who wrote this verse? Moses himself! Is that called humility?
Seeding the Barren Desert of Loneliness
Three Levite families, Merari, Gershon, and Kehat, carried three elements of the Mishkan through the desert -- the wooden acacia boards, the curtains, and the holy artifacts. The three elements symbolize three spiritual postures: stillness through introspection; expansive love; and the actualization of introspective stillness and flowing love through word and deed
Light: an Anthology
The path of light, sunglasses of the soul, the Lamplighter, the discovery of darkness, the inexistence of the universe, the spiritual significance of the rainbow -- 26 stories, essays and meditations on light and luminescence
Covenant & Conversation
Camp and Congregation
There are, says Rabbi Soloveitchik, two ways in which people become a group – a community, society, or nation.
Faith and Friendship
After all that had happened – the miracles, the exodus, the division of the sea, food from heaven, water from a rock, the revelation at Sinai and the covenant that went with it – the people, yet again, were complaining about the food. And not because they were hungry; merely because they were bored.
From Despair to Hope
No leadership position is easy. Leading Jews is harder still. And spiritual leadership can be hardest of them all.
Moses' Challenge
For the first time since his mission began, he could see defeat staring him in the face.
On Humility
He was a world-famous figure, I was an anonymous student from 3000 miles away. Quickly it became clear to me that he believed in me more than I believed in myself
Power or Influence?
We tend to think of them as similar, if not identical. But it is not so. The two are quite distinct, and operate by different logic.
Beyond Speech
To Uplift Others
Please Try Again
You can be physically close, yet detached and distant in attitude—here in body, elsewhere in mind.
On the Haftarah: The Daughters of Zion, the Golden Menorah, and Joshua the High Priest
For the haftarah of Behaalotecha, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Manna, Bread From the Heavens
I have not found a Jew who is not ready for a lesson from the inner Torah.
Lighting the Souls of Our Brothers and Sisters
This is a call to every Jewish person to have an effect on his or her fellow Jew.
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